Funeral traditions of Japan


Naughty children screaming ran into a memorial hall. They did not notice the portrait in the frame, no flowers mourning nor grieving relatives who served, we left the hall, preparing for the ceremony tonight. Almost upsetting the owner of the coffee shop, I ran to catch up with their child. Catching it in your arms, I drew his attention to the center of the room and on the portrait of a woman. And, for a while thinking how to explain the situation two-year-old, said: “See that woman? She died. There, in the street, are her relatives. It is very sad that she died. There is no need to run. This is not good.” up To this point we have touched upon the topic of death of animals and plants, but that the death and the person he heard for the first time. I didn’t know how he will react to it. His reaction surprised me. He said: “I mean “Sorry”!” . I paused again – this time over whether two-year-old to apologize for what he did out of ignorance. And said “If you want to!” . He wanted. He turned to the portrait and said to the dead woman, in Japanese: “Excuse me!” . Then bowed to her and took my hand. I repeated after him a nod and turned around. Us watched in amazement Japanese.

It was the first time we’ve encountered in Japan with funeral rites and traditions. We did not know the woman’s name nor even the name of the village where we stopped to eat on the road, but decided to learn more about Japanese funeral traditions. About it – under the cut.

Many of our friends and the Japanese follow Buddhism and Shinto at the same time. According to them, joyful events   weddings   they celebrated in Shinto rites, and sad ” the funeral – on Buddhist.

Funeral ceremony in Japan involves preparing the deceased for burial, funeral, funerals, cremation and burial.

After the death of the deceased lubricate lips with water, sometimes on the chest put a knife to ward off evil spirits, at the head put flowers, incense and candles. Notified relatives and superiors, while the municipality issues a notice of death. The body is washed and put in the coffin. The next day at the funeral of a Buddhist priest reads passages from the sutras, and relatives and invited to the funeral of three lit incense in front of the dead. Guests can bring the family money in specially designed envelopes, tied black and white ribbons.

As I understand it, the hall in which we were, was cooked exactly to the service. He was in a village called “communities hall”, resembling our Russian “recreation” in the villages. As it turned out, in Japan, such places often rent for parting with the deceased.

The day after the funeral service a person is buried. Again invited the priest, who this time not only reading the Sutra and burning incense, but also assigns to the deceased “the border” – a new Buddhist name, in order not to disturb the soul of the deceased by mentioning his real name. Then the coffin is placed in the decorated hearse and transported to the place of cremation. The procedure of cremation of an adult human takes about two hours, after which relatives of large sticks piled bones of the deceased in an urn. The family may keep the urn at home for a few days, and then bury the ashes in the cemetery in the family plot.

The following case, when we encountered a Japanese funeral traditions, was unexpected. Scientist working in our science center, on the weekend was riding a bike. Someone called him on his mobile phone. He answered the phone, drove into a wall and died. This tragedy shocked the entire campus. It was so sad that I cried even male Japanese. At the victim remained unemployed wife and two young children who attended our kindergarten. Friends organized a fundraiser for a funeral and established a trust Fund for the education of children. Almost the entire campus went to say goodbye to the deceased: the buses were organized for colleagues, for parents of kindergarten and even former neighbors from the neighborhood where this family lived. Wanting to show respect to the deceased and his family, went to the funeral even foreigners. Trying not to violate Japanese funeral customs, we turned to an elderly Japanese woman who knew the details of all the traditions. She told us about a special dress code at the funeral and helped to choose the right clothes. Men must wear black suits with white shirts and black ties, women – in black dresses, suits or kimono. It turned out that in any case cannot come to the funeral with gold jewelry, but women can wear a string of pearls. To our question why she knows so well these funeral traditions, she replied that her father was mayor and his parents bequeathed her whole life to have respect to all his voters, in particular, seeing their final journey…

Perhaps this is all that I can say about funeral traditions in Japan. If You know more about them, or heard something else – please share in the comments to this post.

Finally, not to end on a sad note, I will share a funny event that happened to me a couple of months after arriving in Japan:

Having fun chatting and laughing we returned with my son. Suddenly I heard a mournful sound and saw something like a hearse. He drove past and pulled in to our houses. Part cargo “hearse” was glazed and the red velvet was located in what I took to be an urn with the ashes. Of course, I immediately stopped having fun and my face took on an expression corresponding to this sad event. I decided that in our homes died and his ashes wheeling last time to bid farewell. It looked so (video):

Arriving home, I wrote my roommate a message asking who died. She was surprised, and said he never heard anything like that. Then I asked her if she heard just the mournful sounds coming from the street… She replied that, of course, heard – every Tuesday, a seller of roasted sweet potatoes come to our neighborhood and thus attracts the attention of buyers.

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